This week we celebrate National School Choice Week. A time to celebrate the fact that we have choices with regards to where we send our children to get their education. This is not just a choice between public and private but also the choices even within the public school system. But when we think about school choice, we have, for many years, had the choice between public and private, but I believe there should be more done to incentivize both the public and the private schools as choices for parents and students.
Public schools have, and still are, the mainstay of the American education system. These schools are funded through tax dollars that every person pays whether in sales taxes, personal property taxes or both. Recent surveys have shown that 91% of school aged children attend public schools nationally. That is a huge number, but not surprising. Since public schools are funded through tax dollars, we don’t see that money, so we don’t feel that we are spending the money for our children’s education. The truth of the matter is this, although it appears that public education is “FREE”, it is far from it. In fact, according to governing.com, the average cost to educate a child in a public school in the Commonwealth of Virginia is $11,237. In comparison, according privateschoolreview.com, the average private school tuition in the Commonwealth is $10,731 for elementary students, and $15,558 for High School students.
The combined tuition and curriculum/activity fee for Mountain View Christian Academy for 2017-2018 was $6885 per year for K-6 grades, and $7970 per year for 7-12 grades.
So why does school choice matter? Why should we have a week that celebrates school choice?
The reason it matters is that, as parents, we should not be forced to place our children in a school just because we live in a certain district. We have the ability to make every other choice for our children, but for some reason the government feels that they know better when it comes to their education, and where they should be attending. The school choice initiative also matters because as parents we know, and learned very early in life, that not every block fits in the same hole. A square doesn’t fit in a circle and a triangle doesn’t fit in a square. The same can be said for children. Some may do very well in the public school setting, but some may not for varying reasons. We should be able to place our children in the school that will best fit their learning and social styles, and at the same time, we should be able to apply for state help for private schools since we are no longer utilizing the public system, yet still paying for it through our taxes.
Another reason that I feel School Choice matters is this. For years we have complained about the value of public schools and their ability to truly prepare children or the future and make them competitive on a world-wide scale. By creating a market-place where parents are given an incentive to send their child to a private school because they believe their child will receive a better education, will create a competitive atmosphere, and cause the public schools to think outside the box of traditional education standards in order to recruit and retain students. It also creates the need for private schools to stay focused on the child and to meet the value-proposition that parents are expecting when they are making such a monetary investment in their child’s education.
The reason we celebrate school choice this week is because parents have a choice for their children. We celebrate because states are beginning to provide incentives for parents to send their children to private schools. But there is still work to be done. For instance, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, there is one program available to parents to receive a tax credit Scholarship. This program is called the Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits Program. According to edchoice.com, “This program offers a 65% tax credit to individuals and businesses that donate to qualified Scholarship Foundations(SF’S). The SF’s then provide private school scholarships to students whose families meet the income requirements.” For more information about the income requirements, which are higher than one would think, you can go to edchoice.com or go to www.doe.virginia.gov/school_finace/scholarships_tax_credits/
I believe that school choice and the financial incentive for private schools should be open to any parent who makes a decision that their child would benefit more from a private school education. The average scholarship in Virginia was $3,134 per student for the 2016-2017 school year. When you do the math, the state still comes out ahead almost $8000.
According to the National School Choice week website, (schoolchoiceweek.com) “Research shows that when parents are empowered to choose the education environments that they believe work best for their kids, students are more likely to succeed and graduate from high school. That is because every child is unique, and students thrive when they’re matched with learning environments that meet their individual needs.”
That is what education is all about. It is about the child and the child’s ability to learn and grow in an environment that best suits their needs. The only people who know what those needs are is the parent and the child.
For more about how you can make the school choice initiative even better in Virginia, visit schoolchoiceweek.com and download the “School Choice tips for parents” page.
For more information about Mountain View Christian Academy, fill out the contact form or call the office at 540-868-1231.
Have a blessed week celebrating school choice. I’ll talk to you later.
We have reached the end of another year. I hope it was a good year for you. One that was filled with joy and an abundance of blessings. If it was less than you had hoped for, then my prayer for you is that 2018 will be a better year.
This New Year has the potential to be a great year. Moving forward means that we can make changes that will be positive for our families, workplaces and the communities that we live in. We have heard the chant of making America great again, but it is going to take a lot more than one man making claims that he alone can make that happen. It is going to take a group effort and that group must include all of us.
I am a firm believer that the best way to make anything great is to allow the Great I Am, God, to be the major part of the equation. If America has lost its claim to being great, it is because we have failed to continue the acknowledgement of God as being the creator and foundation of this great nation we live in. The natural, moral and ethical laws in which this nation were founded upon, have, for the most part been overrun by ignorance and man’s idea that he knows better. History should be the only proof that we need to see that our ways are not the ways that lead to peace and prosperity. Our ways lead to strife and unrest and eventually wars. And it is man who works hard at justifying the wrongs committed, going even as far as claiming that the wrongs against humanity are the will of God.
So how do we change the course of direction so that America will truly be great again?
I have three things that we can do as a society to make that a reality.
1. Families need to get back to the basics of rearing children.
By establishing boundaries and teaching the meaning of right and wrong and holding our children accountable for their actions, we will get back on the right track for greatness. There is no hiding the fact that there is a lack of discipline and accountability within our society. Consequences for wrong actions have been replaced with pointing the fingers at someone else. There seems to be a trend that it is always someone else’s fault when things go wrong. We need to be strong enough, and honest enough, to accept the consequences for our own wrongdoings. When truth, and consequences, are put back in the forefront of society, we will be a great nation again.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he WILL NOT depart from it.”
2. Children need to be taught that respect and honor are necessary.
The Bible makes it very clear that we all need to show respect to those in authority.
Romans 13:1 says, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities.”
We have seen in the past several years the lack of respect that people have for our brave police officers and our brave military men and women. These people constantly place themselves in harm’s way to protect our lives and property and the freedoms that we enjoy on a daily basis. But where do we learn respect and honor? It all starts in the home.
Exodus 20:12 says, “HONOR your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord is giving you.
This command is repeated in Deuteronomy 5:16 , “HONOR your father and mother, as the Lord has commanded you, that your days may be long…” Even Jesus quoted the command in Matthew 15:4.
Honor and respect for parents as well as authority are demanded and necessary for a civilized society to maintain order.
3. Finding a school that will Partner together with students and parents.
This is not where I start bashing the public schools. They do what they do with what they have to work with. That being said, I have great respect for private schools who choose to exalt Jesus Christ above all else and meld the Bible into every subject being taught. When we want to get back to greatness, we have to teach our children where greatness can be found. Through the Words of God and the teachings of Jesus Christ, we find what absolute truth is, we see how we should live our lives and we see that with all actions there are consequences, both good and bad. Our schools should be a place where our children feel safe and secure and can concentrate on their studies. Teachers should be able to teach for the moment and not to a test. And parents should know that their children are loved and cared for even when they are not with them and that their education will get them to the next level and beyond. The home and the church have always been partners in teaching and training our children, and now we add to the mix the Christian school to expand on the process.
Christian schools work hard teaching our children what respect and honor are and how we are to display such virtues. Children are held to a higher standard, from class work, homework, and even their lives outside the walls of the school. Children who hold to that standard are rewarded, and subsequently, those who do not are held accountable.
When we as a nation find our way back to God, and the plan that he has established for us as the human race and the United States of America, only then will we be great again.
As we move forward, I pray that 2018 will be a year filled with joy and an abundance of blessings and good health.
If you would like more information about how Mountain View Christian Academy can make a difference in the life of your child and the communities we call home, please fill out the form to the right, or call 540-868-1231.
May God Bless you and keep you safe and healthy in 2018. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
One of my favorite Christmas songs is the “Little Drummer Boy”. As the Little Drummer Boy is asked to go and see the new born Baby King, he realizes that he has no gift to present to Him, as the others have. The only thing he has is his tiny drum and an ability to play it. So what does he do, he does just that, he plays his drum for the baby King, Jesus. The song ends with Jesus smiling at the Little Drummer Boy because he gave Him all that he had, the gift of a drum solo.
As we draw nearer to the day that we celebrate the birth of the King of kings and the Lord of lords, and we are asked to come to him to be witness to the birth that changed the course of history, what gift are you going to bring to Him? What do you possess that the most influential person ever to walk on the face of this earth could want? My gift suggestion to you is GODLINESS.
In our adult Sunday school class at The Church of Christ at Mountain View, we have been looking at the eight graces that help us to grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ as mentioned in the book of 2 Peter 1:5-8. Godliness, or living a godly life, or a life pleasing to God, is one of those graces, or character traits necessary to grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. It is in essence living, doing, serving, working with the attitude to please God and God alone.
What tends to happen, especially during the mad dash of shopping and holiday parties and get together’s in the month leading up to Christmas day, is that we focus our attention on ourselves, and what other people are going to think about what we bought for them. Will they like it? Will they use it? Will they wear it? What will they think of ME for buying it for them? Do I look good enough? Does the food taste good enough? You get the idea I’m sure, because these same questions have, will be, or are racing through you own mind. All the time doing these things so that we look good, and forgetting that the only reason we are doing these things is because of the birth of the one person we are not thinking about, and certainly not thinking about what HE wants or needs.
And as our friends and family are opening their gifts on Christmas morning, and if by chance we see them open the gift that we bought for them, then the questions really start flying. Do you like it? Is it the right color, size, style? Do you know how much I paid for it? Please don’t hate me for buying that for you. I’ll take it back if you don’t like it. Again I ask, who’s birthday is it, and what did you give to HIM?
The King whose birth we celebrate wants YOU as His gift. He wants you to live a life that has a “God-ward” attitude. He wants us to do things that are pleasing to Him, not what is pleasing to man. We need to stop worrying ourselves over these little, petty things that drive us mad as we are shopping for the perfect gift. All of mankind has been given that perfect gift, wrapped in swaddling clothes, laid in manger, watched over by shepherds, guarded by angels, and worshipped by all of creation. The apostle Paul wrote to the Galatian Church, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)
So how do we give a gift that can’t be bought? How do we show our godliness? There are three things that each of us can do in order to present to Christ the gift of our “living to please God.” These actions can be found in, 1 Timothy 4:12-16.
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, take time to work out your gift for Him. Don’t allow Him to be the last one you give anything to, because you were always first on His mind.
Make time to be with family and friends, and don’t get stressed over what they may or may not think. It is not their party anyway. The party is not to celebrate them, it is to celebrate the birth of Christ.
Finally, enjoy the season of JOY, LOVE and PEACE. And be diligent to carry it with you all month long and into the next year.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to ALL men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” – Titus 2:11-13
God's Blessings to you and your family. I’ll talk to you soon.
This week, families across this great nation will come together to celebrate Thanksgiving Day. That one day of the year that we cook too much food, for way too many hours, eat way too much in a 1/8th of the time it took us to cook all that food, share that we are thankful for our family and friends, jobs and homes, and watch parades and football. For my wife’s family it also includes the “Girls” sitting down and preparing their Black Friday shopping strategy. Where to go first, what to buy, where to eat breakfast, and how to get home before the sun goes down again. If that sounds like your typical family Thanksgiving, then I am sorry, because that is not what this day is meant to be about.
The first ‘Thanksgiving” was celebrated in 1621 by the remaining Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620 on the Mayflower. The winter of 1620 took the lives of more than half of those who had sailed across the Atlantic Ocean seeking to make a new start. The first “Thanksgiving” lasted for three days and, included the Native American allies. The second “Thanksgiving celebration was held in 1623 after Governor Bradford called for a religious “Fast” following the end of a brutally long drought.
It wasn’t until 1789 that George Washington, then President of the United States, issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation.
“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor…a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of almighty God.” Washington’s proclamation was signed on October 3, 1789.
I mention that date only because exactly 74 years later, in 1863, Abraham Lincoln, in the midst of the Civil War, in his Thanksgiving proclamation, designated the “Last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent father who dwelleth in the heavens.” It was eventually changed to the fourth Thursday in November in 1941 by then President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Lincoln also stated in his 1863 proclamation,
“No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people.”
That is what this coming Thursday was established for. It wasn’t for the NFL, Macy’s, or the Turkey farmers across the country. It was a day for the people of this country to thank the creator of the Universe for the abundant blessings, despite the struggles and failures of the past, present and future.
So what am I thankful for? In the country we live in today, is there anything to be thankful for other than the normal things we are always thankful for, our families and friends? I believe there is, and here are the four things that I believe we should all be thankful for, because this is what this day was originally meant to be for.
1. God’s Favor
We live in the greatest country in the world. We have so much, but we take for granted what we have. We don’t truly understand that who we are as a nation and what we have as a nation are not by our own hand. We have found the favor of God. Now I am not saying that Americans have not worked hard and continue to work hard, that our forefathers fought and died for the liberties that we enjoy, but we would not be who we are as a nation without the favor of God.
Job 33:26-27 then that person can pray to God and find favor with him, they will see God’s face and shout for joy; he will restore them to full well-being. And they will go to others and say, I have sinned, I have perverted what is right, but I did not get what I deserved.
2. God’s Blessings
Right along with God’s Favor, come His blessings. The friends and family, the abundant amount of food that will be on our tables this Thanksgiving Day, the freedom and liberties, the grace and mercy, are just a small portion of the abundant blessings that we have received and continue to receive.
Ephesians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
3. God’s Forgiveness
An imperfect world is what we live in and this nation is made up of imperfect people. When we sin we need forgiveness, and the only one who can truly forgive us for our sins, is the God that we are grateful to for His favor and blessings.
Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.
4. God’s Promised Future
For those who acknowledge, and are grateful for the favor, blessings, and forgiveness, there is a bright future. When we are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ through baptism, we live a good, faithful life, and we seek “first the Kingdom of God,” we will be ushered into a future life incomparable to any life imaginable.
Romans 2:7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.
Sure, there are an abundance of things to be grateful for, and I encourage you, on this Thanksgiving Day, as you sit with your families, sharing what you are thankful for, think on the things that you are thankful for, but remember to be thankful for the One who has blessed us greater than we ever deserved as individuals, or as a nation.
God Bless you and your family on this Thanksgiving Day 2017. I’ll talk to you soon.